Deciding not wear pyjamas tonight and letting only the fabric of the sheets rub your skin, will give your health a big boost and your body will be grateful.
Over the years, researchers have studied sleep and have disclosed several benefits beyond providing rest for the body. They have also pointed out that it’s not just about sleeping, but length of time, temperature, position, foods and other factors can contribute to getting the best out of sleep time and reaping its numerous benefits.
Recent studies have focused on how what one wears to sleep may affect his/her sleep and according to an international study by the U.S. National Sleep Foundation, sleeping in the nude has been shown to have numerous benefits.
Sleeping naked is not a usual practice in the world. The Dream 2013 Global Survey explore sleep differences among six countries: the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan, reveals that only 30% of Britons do, while the figure drops to 12% in Mexico and the United States.
In Costa Rica, there is no data.
Beyond the erotic
Sleep is one of the most important things we do every night. But did you know that sleeping naked has some additional health benefits?
Sleep experts agree it’s important to keep cool at night as your body (or ‘core’) temperature needs to drop by about half a degree for you to fall asleep.
The brain, driven by your internal body clock, sends messages to the blood vessels to open up and release heat.
“Your core temperature is at its highest at 11:00p.m. and its lowest at 4:00a.m,” said Dr Chris Idzikowski, Director of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, Scotland, and author of ‘Sound Asleep: The Expert Guide To Sleeping Well.’
“If anything prevents that decline in temperature, the brain will wake itself up to see what’s going on, meaning you’ll struggle to get to sleep or you’ll have disturbed sleep.
“The advantage of sleeping naked is it’s easier for the body to cool and maintain the lower temperature the brain wants to achieve,” he said.
Disrupted sleep from being too hot doesn’t just mean you’ll get less sleep overall, but it might mean less deep sleep which is the most restorative type.
Deep sleep is key for memory consolidation and the production of growth hormone — important for cell repair and growth.
Wearing nothing to bed can help women avoid developing yeast infections, such as thrush, says Austin Ugwumadu, a consultant gynaecologist at St George’s Hospital in South London.
“Thrush loves warm, restricted environments. So, wear something loose or preferably nothing at all.
“If you wear something tight, it means less air gets to the area and you’re more likely to sweat, which can cause irritation,” he said.
There is an increasing focus on brown fat, a type of tissue in the body that may protect against weight gain.
While ordinary body fat piles on when we eat more calories than we burn, brown fat seems to burn excess calories to generate heat.
We know babies have lots of brown fat — they need it to keep warm — but studies have shown there are small amounts in the necks of adults too.
Experts believe that certain activities could switch on this fat, potentially helping to burn calories at a greater rate.
In a U.S. study in the journal Diabetes, researchers found that sleeping in a cold bedroom could activate brown fat in adults.
Five healthy young men slept in climate-controlled bedrooms for four months. For the first month, the room was kept at 24°C, then it was lowered to 19°C, then it went back to 24°C and for the last month raised to 27°C.
They ate the same amount of calories and their calorie expenditure and insulin sensitivity — how much insulin the body needs to keep blood sugar levels stable — were measured each day.
The results were striking. After four weeks sleeping at 19°C, the men had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat.
Tests showed they burned more calories throughout the day when their bedroom was cooler (though not enough to lose weight) and their insulin sensitivity had also improved.
Senior author, Francesco S. Celi, said the study showed that over time, sleeping in a cold bedroom could lessen the risk of diabetes.
Michael Symonds, professor of Developmental Physiology at the University of Nottingham and an expert on brown fat, says sleeping naked may be beneficial.
“Brown fat can produce 300 times more heat than any other body organ, meaning if you can keep it activated for a prolonged amount of time you’d be less likely to lay down excess energy.
“So, anything you can do to try to activate it, such as lowering the thermostat and sleeping in the cold, may be of benefit,” he said.
But room temperature shouldn’t be below a level at which you feel comfortable, otherwise you won’t sleep.
People who tend to feel hot at night and like to sleep naked, may have a high amount of brown fat, which causes them to feel warmer than others.
Lower blood pressure
Cosy pyjamas are tempting, but if you share a bed with a partner, going nude will generate a generous boost of oxytocin, a hormone that’s been shown to have a wealth of health benefits.
“It is triggered by closeness, particularly skin-to-skin contact,” says Dr Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, a physiologist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and an expert on oxytocin.
“Sensory nerves on the skin send impulses to the brain, triggering the release.
“When a baby is placed on its mother’s chest, the blood in mother and child starts to pulse with oxytocin,” he said.
Oxytocin has a protective effect on the heart, as it lowers blood pressure. It also boosts the immune system and reduces anxiety.
“But it only works if skin-on-skin touching is something you’re happy with,” he added.
Boost your love life
People who sleep naked have happier love lives, according to a survey of 1,000 British adults by a bedsheet company this year.
The study found 57 per cent of nude sleepers were happy with their relationship, compared with 48 per cent of pyjama wearers and 43 per cent of nightie wearers (onesie wearers were just 38 per cent).
Sleeping naked is a good strategy for those with body image issues, says Denise Knowles, sex therapist at counselling charity Relate.
“You can slip under the sheets and then take your clothes off, and then you can be touched, even if you don’t want to be looked at.
“Pyjamas might give the message ‘not tonight,’ but equally a lot of couples have a lot of fun taking each other’s clothes off,” she said.